Sunday 23 February 2020

It's Ok To Not Have Your Life Together After Uni

Niki talks about how it's OK if things don't go as expected after you graduate and how sharing her experiences with others has made her feel less alone 
- Niki Hodson

Five months into leaving university following my Masters course, and I should have my life together, right? The dream career, or at the very least, the first rung on the ladder of my dream career. To have moved out (or to have never moved back in with my family after university in the first place). A thriving social life in a new city. The reality for me has been a little different. 

I had an incredibly turbulent summer writing my postgraduate dissertation. During this time I completely isolated myself, working 12-hour days in the library and going for days without speaking to anyone. Most of my friends had finished university for the summer, either being in years below or on integrated Masters programs. The majority of my course friends were from overseas and returned there to write their dissertations. I felt so much pressure because of how much the dissertation counted for and I wasn't even sure whether what I was writing was along the right lines. As a result, I stopped responding to my friends who were attempting to check in with me. After finally finishing, I didn't even feel proud or happy to be done, I just felt exhausted and fragile. I thought those feelings would leave as soon as I got time to recover a bit. They didn't. 

The words "post-uni blues" are thrown around a fair bit, but I think that undermines just how low and lonely you can feel following university. With most of my friends still at university, my entire social life was still there, whilst I was nearly 50 miles away living with my parents whilst looking for jobs. I faced an endless stream of job rejections, and so many didn't even respond. I kept returning to my university city for nights out and socials, and the same questions would come up in conversation "What are you doing now?", "Where are you living?" and my least favourite "How come you're back?". I didn't feel like I had properly started my adult life in the way I should have done, and I didn't feel like I belonged as a student anymore either.

It wasn't until my friend opened up to me that I realised I wasn't the only person feeling like this. Having spent my entire adult life as a student, adjusting to suddenly not being one anymore hasn't been easy. I put too much pressure on myself to have my life together as soon as I left university. I don't have that expectation for other people, so why do I have it for myself? Not having a grad job yet doesn't make me a failure. Still going to student nights doesn't make me a failure. Moving back home doesn't make me a failure.

I wanted to write this blog to reassure anyone that is feeling the same way since finishing uni-your feelings are completely valid and justified. Few people talk about how tough it can be after graduating, but starting that conversation with others and reaching out for support can make a world of difference. You'd probably be surprised by how many graduates feel exactly the same as you! It can take time to find your feet and that's more than ok-you don't need to have everything figured out straight away.

For more information on looking after your mental health after graduation, please visit the Student Minds site here

My name is Niki and I recently graduated with my MSc from the University of Sheffield. I absolutely loved my time at uni, but I felt really overwhelmed and lost after graduating. After speaking to several people who felt the same, I realised I wasn't alone in how I was feeling. I wanted to share my experiences in the hope it will make other people feel less alone too. 

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